Washington, DC – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the Safer Stronger DC Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement’s (ONSE) Leadership Academy – a school-based initiative aimed at promoting school and community safety by providing wraparound services and mentorship through direct engagement with students and their families at Anacostia High School. Mayor Bowser, DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, and ONSE Director Delbert McFadden also participated in a community building restorative circle with Anacostia students focused on what students need to make every day count.
“We know that when we are out in the community offering support and breaking down barriers to opportunity, we can help reduce violence and put more residents on a pathway to prosperity,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through the ONSE Leadership Academy, we will be able to help these students achieve success by connecting them with the resources they need to transition into adulthood and lead safe and happy lives.”
This school year, Anacostia became one of ten DCPS Connected Schools – a new $1.6 million investment by Mayor Bowser to take the community schools model to the next level. Connected Schools take a whole child, whole school, whole community approach by transforming schools into spaces that support not only a student’s academic development, but a family’s overall wellbeing through access to resources related to health, employment, housing and more. The ONSE Leadership Academy is an example of how Connected Schools transform the way DC agencies work together to break down persistent in-school and out-of-school barriers students face.
“DC Public Schools is committed to closing the opportunity gap and we know that we can’t do it alone – it will take our entire community coming together to ensure that every student is graduating ready for success in college and career,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “I am proud that our agency partner, ONSE, has a presence in our schools and continues to support our students in unique ways that support their social, emotional, and academic development.”
The ONSE Leadership Academy partnered with DCPS to address social, economic, health and behavioral challenges that may impact the needs and success of students who need the most supports. Their approach is rooted in restorative practices. ONSE success coaches support Safe Passage before and after school at Anacostia, and work with 40 students to provide support services through case management, participate in one-on-one and group-based mentoring, and promote students’ social emotional learning.
“The ONSE Leadership Academy is about keeping our youth engaged in safe and productive activities, connecting families with behavioral and mental health supports, and providing treatment services so that we can work together to swiftly meet their needs,” said ONSE Executive Director Del McFadden. “This school-based public safety initiative is truly a community effort to make our city safer for students to achieve lifetime success.”
Last year, Anacostia made strides in improving student achievement, engagement, and satisfaction. Seventy percent of students met their math growth goals, and Anacostia saw an 8% increase in students scoring a Level 4 or 5 in English language arts on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment. Student satisfaction rates increased by 13%, suspensions decreased by 6%, and the school successfully launched the #WhyAna social media campaign to build school pride.
“The ONSE has been an incredible addition to Anacostia High School, and is integrating into the school community,” said Anacostia Principal William Haith. “They provide valuable support to underscore the work Anacostia has established with restorative practices, life skills and career readiness, and wrap around case management for our upperclassmen who need it the most.”
The ONSE initiative adds to investments made by Mayor Bowser and DCPS this school year to accelerate outcomes for students furthest from opportunity. Anacostia is not only a Connected School with the ONSE Leadership Academy this school year, but is also a Redesign School. Redesign is a transformation strategy supporting Anacostia and Ballou High Schools to partner with their communities to reimagine the programming, focus areas, and opportunities that schools offer. It allows schools to create an innovative program where students are taking courses and building skills aligned to social, economic, and technological developments in society.